Soldiers accept whatever comes

Private Kevin Thompson from Lancaster.
Private Kevin Thompson from Lancaster.

I write in response to your leading item in the Lancaster Guardian on June 20 – Time for answers – concerning the news that the parents of the deceased soldier Kevin Thompson now had the right to sue the government and military authorities for answers and possible recompense for the loss of their son.

As an ex-soldier I have a view on this development which others might agree or disagree with.

The job of being a serviceman is a unique job, in one respect like no other.

You take the ‘Queen’s shilling’, swear the oath of service, sign your name to a binding contract and then accept that you will serve wherever you are sent and accept without question the possible dangers involved.

The job is unique in that you will be ordered at times to place yourself in situations of grave danger to life and limb and you must respond to those orders.

Your orders may involve you having to take the lives of others – the insurgents, this is the gravest responsibility you may ever undertake.

I repeat, the job of a serviceman is like no other, it is unique.

Myself and perhaps other ex-servicemen see that there are probably great difficulties ahead for the military and for the government of the day if the possibility of many legal actions are to ensue due to present and future claims for loss of life or limb.

This will surely inhibit the military authorities in many aspects of action.

As an old man I am much more of a pacifist now than I was as a young soldier and I regret deeply that we as a nation are and have been involved in recent unnecessary wars.

But, while we have an army that is still involved in active service, I feel that we should give full support in every way and the possibility of legal action against our forces is a retrograde step.

My father and grandfather both serviced in the First World War. I served in Aden during the early 1960s, my son served in Northern Ireland and in Bosnia and my grandson has recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan.

We all survived safely but felt that the risks involved were part of the job, we accepted them willingly because we had signed up for them, we volunteered.

If anything that I have written in this letter hurts or offends the parents of Kevin Thompson then I am deeply sorry and sincerely apologise.

I remember well the front page item that this newspaper published on the death of soldier Kevin. I wrote then to the paper expressing my feelings and sympathy for the family of this brave young lad.

As an old soldier I could bore you with reams of opinion on the military life, but I won’t.

B Johnson

Glen View Crescent